After weeks of speculation Chris Johnson is officially a New York Jet.
The Jets and Johnson agreed to a two-year deal according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the details of the contract are not known yet. (UPDATE: per www.profootballtalk.com the deal is for two-years and $8 million base salary with an extra million dollars of potential incentive bonus money. Some perspective, Maurice Jones-Drew just got $3.5 million per year and last year the Titans gave Shonn Greene $10 million for three-years, or just over $3 million per year.)
Running back was way down the list of the Jets needs, but Johnson adds a new dimension to this offense. A dimension that consists of receiving ability out of the backfield and a whole lot of speed. Johnson isn’t the player he once was, when he rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season, but he immediately brings a play-making ability that defenses have to respect which will open up space in the passing game.
Johnson will be used mostly as a complimentary back to Ivory, expect them to split carries pretty equally with fluctuations depending on match ups/in-game hot streaks, but Johnson’s speed used in combination with Ivory’s power makes for a nice one-two punch in the Jets rushing attack.
Bilal Powell will certainly see a reduced role, barring injury, and become the number three back in the rotation mostly in passing situations. Mike Goodson’s days with the Jets are likely numbered. It appeared the Jets were willing to ride it out through his court day, but this signing makes him extremely expendable now.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has plenty of experience using multiple back sets and will find numerous ways to keep defenses on their heels leaning on the power and speed of Ivory and Johnson. The Jets know they have to get better running the ball, which should in-turn help them get better passing the ball and this signing is a step in the right direction of upgrading the running game.
Again Johnson isn’t as good as he once was, but he’s a clear upgrade over Powell and Goodson and offers insurance in case Ivory gets hurt along with his speed.
There is however a reason the Jets were the only serious suitors for Johnson’s services. He has a reputation as a me-first player, a habit of running past wide-open lanes for no gain and often does everything in his power to avoid contact. With his play-making ability also comes a pension for killing drives by passing up open holes trying to break a big run on every play.
Obviously a change of scenery has been known to resurrect careers before and the Jets coaching staff clearly believes there’s enough for them to work with and maybe that combined with a desire to prove people wrong will produce a more determined running back.
Only time will tell, but this signing is the very definition of low-risk, high-reward. Just as John Idzik likes.